BYSASHA LEKACH [https://mashable.com/author/sasha-lekach/]
The Pittsburgh Left might be not in the rulebooks, but you better program any
self-driving cars driving in the Pennsylvania city with that intel, because it?s
going to happen.
Uber is one of several autonomous vehicle companies testing in Pittsburgh that?s
had to contend with the unwritten rules of the road that can sometimes manifest
in aggressive ways. Drivers? tendency in Pittsburgh to turn left before oncoming
traffic has a chance to cross the intersection gave this dangerous move its
moniker. As a result, Uber now has totrain its cars
[https://www.wsj.com/articles/inside-ubers-new-self-driving-cars-in-pittsburgh-1473847202] to expect the abrupt left turn.
> ‘What jagoff was the first person to call it “A Pittsburgh Left?”‘ Well, since
you asked ? https://t.co/1wgfVGroPQ via @PittsburghPG
[https://twitter.com/PittsburghPG?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] pic.twitter.com/BbIXucaja0 [https://t.co/BbIXucaja0]
? Jim Iovino (@jimiovino) September 6, 2018
[https://twitter.com/jimiovino/status/1037719451448291330?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] While Uber, Aurora, Waymo, Aptiv, and other autonomous vehicle companies need to
keep up with legit city- and state-specific laws
[https://mashable.com/article/autonomous-vehicles-inconsistent-rules-of-the-road/] and build software systems that can follow the rules no matter where the car is
driving, there?s still a whole set of cultural and societal norms to follow. If
a self-driving car doesn?t drive like the locals, it stands out even more ?and
not in a good way.
Amazon-backed Aurora programs several social behaviors that aren?t the law, but
makes cars with its self-driving system get along better with others on the
road. Some examples include turning right on red in states where it?s allowed.
This gets tricky because cars aren?t legally required to turn right on red, but
tell that to the cars piling up behind you as you wait for the green.
When merging from two lanes to one, Aurora is training its system to practice
the ?zipper method? of every other car. Again, there?s nothing legally stating
cars have to do this, but common road courtesy prevails. When on the highway,
Aurora is keeping its vehicles from sitting in the left-most lane unless it
needs to pass. Highway patrol can?t ticket you for bad passing, but you?ll annoy
your fellow drivers, so the software is getting trained on how to pass
Channeling that human touch.And yes, like Uber, the Aurora autonomous vehicles
are learning how to handle unprotected left-hand turns, especially in situations
that come up in Pittsburgh and other cities.
> I keep forgetting that when I drive in Boston that the ?Pittsburgh left? isn?t a
? Lauren Schultz (@laureneschultz) September 10, 2019
[https://twitter.com/laureneschultz/status/1171536595566178307?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] Self-driving startup Aptiv has cars in Las Vegas, Boston, Pittsburgh, and
Singapore ?and soon China. It?s powering the self-driving Lyft rides available
in Vegas. As Aptiv?s president of autonomous mobility Karl Iagnemma noted, each
place dictates different driving behavior.
?We have to build a system that allows us to adhere to the rules of the road of
every city,? he said. ?And different driving norms and preferences.?
It could be something as simple as Singapore drives on the left-hand side of the
road or Vegas has dust storms the car has to deal with. In Boston, because they
test by the water, a car once approached a flock of seagulls on the road. While
unordinary for human drivers, the cars need to know that because it?s in a
sea-side environment birds may appear and the perceived obstacle will fly away.
But in other location that mass in the road could very well be something to
?No one wants to develop a technology that only works in one city,? he said.
A recent Aptiv project looked at yielding in different cities and how long cars
take to wait before heading through traffic. At junctions they measured
different yield times and found a sweet spot where back-seat passengers felt
most comfortable. For some places when the car moved through at a quicker pace
passengers reported feeling like a human was driving, instead of a reserved,
overly cautious machine.
It?s about bringing that human touch to a machine-driven vehicle. ?It?s hard to
get a car to drive in a human-like manner,? he explained, while also staying
safe and law-abiding. After looking at the data, Aptiv can program its vehicles
to be a typical driver for a city, but it?s important to add skill, safety, and
a more confident vehicle on the road.
Cruise, the autonomous vehicle company from General Motors, is testing its
electric Chevy Bolts on the streets of San Francisco. While hills aren?t so much
a challenge for the self-driving system, the unique cable car trolleys and
tracks on the city?s peaks bring in unwritten rules.
Cable car riders tend to hop on and off whenever and certain streets give cable
cars priority. Cruise has to be able to detect that it?s driving near a cable
car and anticipate erratic human behavior. Simply following the rules won?t cut